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The Masters of Public Administration is an internationally recognised qualification acting as the public service equivalent of an MBA.

Public service managers face an increasing pace of change, combined with pressures to deliver more with less, navigate a complex policy context and enhance performance while sustaining public service values. Designed for professionals in public and non-profit organisations and providing strong and comprehensive support, this online Masters programme will equip you to meet these challenges.

You will study three aspects of public administration:

  • The policy process, within which public services are developed.
  • The organisational and human context through which public services are delivered.
  • The wider social, economic and political environment that shapes public service demands and constraints.

You will learn how to analyse complex public management problems, lead change effectively, and develop your ability to manage through networks and partnerships. You will be able to shape and deliver the public services of the future, and move into more strategic roles in a wide range of organisations.

Over the course of the programme you will grow as a competent and reflective practitioner, both in your current role, and in preparation for more demanding roles in the future. 

The design of the course and the support provided mean that you will be able to balance the requirements of your studies with your work and other responsibilities.  

Course content

Our MPA will develop you as a professional public service manager. You'll develop your skills in analysis, decision-making and accountability. You will deepen your understanding of the ethos, culture, opportunities and constraints that govern public service delivery. You will develop your ability to lead and manage people through successful strategic and organisational change. You'll learn how to influence policy decisions to shape future service delivery and enhance your organisation's learning and performance.

As you progress through this two year course you will apply your learning in the workplace. We'll encourage your development as a reflective practitioner throughout this process.

Towards the end of the course you will start to prepare for your dissertation which will allow you to explore an area of particular interest.

You can also study for a shorter period of time and graduate with a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Teaching format

You will study online and can therefore study from wherever you are. It takes about 15 hours per week to complete all your reading and tasks. You can decide when you work on these weekly tasks, as all activities can be completed around your schedule.

The three main kinds of activity you will be asked to do are:

  • Reading the module texts written by our academic team and selected core articles (journal articles, book chapters, case studies)
  • Joining online discussions with fellow students and the module tutor
  • Working on individual tasks such as written exercises to receive feedback from your tutor or to contribute to group work.

There is also an opportunity in each module to take part in an optional 'live' seminar session with the module tutor and fellow students, to explore the module content or prepare for the assignment.

You will be supported by:

  • A module tutor who will facilitate the online discussion and offer individual support
  • A personal supervisor who will provide ongoing academic and pastoral support. You can approach your supervisor with queries on study skills and your progress
  • A dedicated support team who will be able to help you with administrative or technical enquiries.

Assessment and feedback

You will take part in exercises and other tasks as you progress through each module. This will allow you to receive feedback on your progress and understanding.

At the end of each 20 credit module you will complete an assignment. Normally this will be a 3,000 word assessment. For the 10 credit modules you will work on a shorter written piece or journal, or will complete a dissertation plan.

Careers and skills

This course is ideal for people working in public and not-for-profit sectors as well as people working in for-profit organisations that deliver public services. It will enable you to develop the skills and understanding needed for management and leadership in complex public service environments.

Career opportunities

Our current students and alumni work in roles in: 

  • Local and national governments and their departments
  • International organisations and non-governmental organisations
  • Other publicly funded organisations such as education and healthcare providers
  • Charities and not-for-profit organisations.

Many of our alumni have progressed in their careers either during or after their studies.

Transferable skills

  • Leadership skills
  • Designing, leading and managing change
  • Strategic planning
  • Project management
  • Public services management
  • Decision-making
  • Influencing and managing networks and partnerships
  • Reflective practice for ongoing professional development.

Visit the Public Administration (Online) - MPA/PgCert/PgDip page on the University of York website for more details!

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